Bowing and Uniforms in Martial Arts

Learning the arts such as taiji and or martial arts has many interesting facets. One of the most fascinating is the aspect of bowing.

  • What is bowing ?
  • What does it mean?
  • Why do we do it?
  • Is it a gesture which has been handed down through generations?

Before reading further, have a think about what it means to you.

Significance of Bowing in Tai Chi and Karate

Bowing at the door when entering the class is a sign of respect. Respect for the place of training, respect for the art, respect to yourself as a practitioner.

One must be able to bow to a teacher, and also bow to oneself. If you cannot bow to yourself it means you don’t have respect for yourself, therefore you can’t possibly respect any other person or thing.

Bowing is also a sign of humility. If you can’t bow to whomever your teacher is , then it means that you cannot humble yourself.

Humility is giving up of the ego. To empty oneself. To get rid of.

So when we bow in karate or taiji, we are physically at the lowest point to the ground, with our forehead (which is usually one of the highest points) right down to the ground. We place ourselves in the ‘low’ point. We are, through physical movements, teaching our egos to dissipate.

When we strike in karate, we should be striking our own egos. Our partner is our mirror, it becomes us. We also do mirror drills in taiji, and similar consciousness applies.

Uniforms in Tai Chi and Karate

How does a small gesture of wearing uniform affect us?

When we wear uniform we are expressing that we are all equal. No one person is better than each other. No one person is more or less equipped.

We train in the same place, in the same space, at the same time. We have left / emptied our baggage at the door, coming into a sacred training space. A space for everyone, young, old, fat, thin.

So the next time we enter the dojo with acknowledgment of bowing, with wearing your uniform, and being on time for class, think about what you are suggesting to yourself.

While on the subject of identification, discipline and co-operation , please read our “credo” too!

You can purchase uniforms from Sifu, so please wear them to class! Contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468 for more info.